Jorge Olivera Castillo is a well-known Cuban dissident writer and journalist who, along with 75 other human rights defenders, trade union activists, opposition party members, journalists, writers, and librarians, was arrested in the 2003 Cuban government crackdown known as the “Black Spring”. Sentenced to eighteen years for his pro-democracy writings and political activism, Jorge was held in solitary confinement in Guantanamo Prison from March, 2003 to December, 2004, when he was released on humanitarian and health grounds – though he remained a virtual prisoner in his home, permitted neither to work nor to travel. Along with his wife, human rights and womens’ rights advocate Nancy Alfaya Hernández, Jorge was able to leave Cuba, with the assistance of PEN UK and the Harvard University Scholars at Risk Program, in 2016.
Jorge is the author of eight volumes of fiction and poetry, including, most recently, Quemar las naves (2015), Tatuajes en la Memoria (2013), and Sobrevivir en la boca del Lobo (2012). English translations of his poetry appeared in a special anniversary edition of Index on Censorship, ‘Beyond Bars: 50 Years of the Writers in Prison Committee’ in 2010. In 2012 he was a contributor to PEN International’s anthology, Write Against Impunity. His writing has also been translated into Italian, French, Polish and Czech.
Jorge is also a prolific journalist whose work has been published in the U.S., Sweden, Argentina and the Czech Republic. From 1983 to 1993, he worked in Havana as a television program editor, joining the dissident movement and serving until 1995 as press secretary to the Independent Federation of Democratic Cuban Workers. He was director of the Habana Press agency from 1999 until his arrest in 2003.
Jorge will be in residence as Brown’s International Writers Project Fellow during the 2017 – 18 academic year.